Review: Peter Bjärgö – The Architecture Of Melancholy

Cyclic Law, 2011


1) The Architecture Of Melancholy
2) Bitteresque
3) The Hidden Compass
4) Apathy
5) A Wheel Of Thoughts
6) The Death Of Our Sun
7) Sleep Dep.Loop1

The genius of Peter Bjärgö seems to be incessant. After his neoclassical work with Arcana and dark ambient atmospheres of Sophia, he’s back with his sophomore solo album, one that promises to continue the instrumental path set with his debut “A Wave Of Bitterness” (Kalinkaland Records, 2009). Although it delivers on what it promises, there’s more to this album than that. It’s an incredibly personal, profound and introspective journey into the artist’s soul; thus its being signed by name rather than a pseudonym or project, I presume.

Technically, the album is very simplistic in nature. It’s almost entirely guitar-driven, mostly with an acoustic feel and simple effects, such as reverb and delay. The key remains firmly in the melancholic minor, switching to brighter notes only occasionally. Subtle, half-whispered vocals and various instruments appear from time to time to form the background and flesh out the songs. The performance is adequate and the songs never overstay their welcome. There’s plenty of dynamics and variations of the same theme, so that the songs appear fresh even on repeated listens. Unexpected additions such as the occasional female vocals or the surprisingly different final track, with a single 10-second ambient loop going on for ten minutes, do the overall impression well, as the album might look a bit too singular without such elements.

The problem is, the entire previous paragraph is utterly worthless. Complete rubbish. Throw it out the window. It does literally nothing to truly describe this album. “The Architecture Of Melancholy” shows its greatest quality precisely in its ability to portray the artist’s vision by using very banal tools as means to get to a deeper substance. That’s why it resonates so well with my dark ambient-attuned ears, because I’m used to searching for more intricate threads inside this type of music. Describing its most evident physical qualities would be like describing the type of colours used on Munch’s “Scream” – painfully missed. The music is so spontaneous, so personal, so vivid and intimate that I can’t imagine any ambient fan not being instantly consumed by its sheer emotionality. Seriously, a 10-minute track consisting of nothing but a 10-second loop repeated ad infinitum?! Yes! I could listen to it for hours! Just like the rest of this album, it manages to display the very architecture of melancholy, as the album title says, something that we’re all aware of, deeply connected to and dependent of, a romantic side of us that takes pleasure in the grey just like it does in any other colour. It may be Peter’s own building, but his foundation stone is common to us all. Honestly, it's an incredibly rare occasion to come across an album that connects the artist to his listeners this well, without any obvious intention to do so, which only makes the connection that much more sincere.

Stendhal once said that a novel is a mirror that the writer carries along a road. True art isn’t about the road, it’s about the reflection. And this is about as good as reflections get.


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